Around 2,500 workers are set to lose their jobs at builders’ merchant Travis Perkins.

The company, which also owns Toolstation and Wickes, said the decision comes as it expects the recession to hit the trade for at least two years.

Bosses plan to close 165 stores - mainly focusing on smaller Travis Perkins sites - also they said there were encouraging signs that building work is returning.

Travis Perkins currently operates stores in Bolton, Horwich, Leigh and Radcliffe.

Chief executive Nick Roberts said: “Whilst we have experienced improving trends more recently, we do not expect a return to pre-Covid trading conditions for some time and consequently we have had to take the very difficult decision to begin consultations on the closure of selected branches and to reduce our workforce to ensure we can protect the Group as a whole.

“This is in no way a reflection on those employees impacted and we will do everything we can to support them during this process.”

The company confirmed the closures would focus on small branches where it is either difficult to implement safe distancing practices or marginal profitability.